Blame for a workplace accident may be placed on an employee, but fault commonly doesn’t begin or end there. Employers are responsible for creating safe work atmospheres, including when projects are conducted off company property. Businesses are also required to hire competent workers and train employees to prevent and avoid hazards.
The parents of a 24-year-old Pennsylvania Academy for the Arts student have filed a wrongful death lawsuit. The petition was added to a mounting list of liability actions over a botched, June building demolition in downtown Philadelphia.
The plaintiffs’ daughter was dropping off used clothing at a Salvation Army store when she was crushed by a collapsing wall from a neighboring demolition project. Six people died in the accident, including a friend who accompanied the young woman. More than a dozen other people were injured.
A judge refused to reduce $1.6 million bail for a backhoe operator facing criminal charges for the disaster. Police said the on-site worker was high on codeine and marijuana at the time of the fatal workplace accident.
Defendants named in the
wrongful death claim
include the owners of the badly demolished property, related contractors and employees and the Salvation Army the victim visited. The complaint alleged the thrift store and owners of the adjacent property traded emails weeks before the demolition that discussed the risks of a collapse.
The plaintiffs held a news conference to announce the wrongful death filing and sent a plea for an expert, independent investigation of the accident. The victim’s mother, the Philadelphia city treasurer, said she and her daughter rode bikes together just hours before the woman’s death.
Employers who disregard federal, state or local safety rules violate laws. Businesses also endanger the people they employ and anyone else exposed to the company’s work environment. Eliminating all on-the-job mistakes may be impossible, but minimizing them is the obligation of every employer.
Parents file suit, call for panel over building collapse
” David Gambacorta, Sep. 19, 2013